Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tube Flies 101

I've been addicted to tube flies lately and here's why...

You can tie flies as big as you want, and the hook (generally short shanked and wide gaped) remains constant.  I believe this makes a big difference with large fish.  Last season I had too many fish pop off due to large shanked streamer hooks, and the forces heavy rolling fish can put on them.  Using almost exclusively tube flies this year my landing ratio of these huge lake run fish has increased dramatically.

Another bonus of using tubes is they can be done on the cheap.  Can you spend tons of money on a fancy tube vise, metal pre-shaped tubes, and oversized cones?  Sure can, but you don't have to.  Below are steps to make my tube starter kit that can be used with any fly tying vise, and directions to tie a basic fly, enjoy!

As always feel free to click the photos to get a larger view to help with your tying, but do not use any of the photos without my written permission. 
Step 1:  Go to the craft store and buy large embroidery needles check my pack above for good sizes (around $2.00 - $4.00 for a mixed pack).  Then your local fly shop for HMH rigid plastic tubes size Small (around $4.00). 
Step 2:  A little prep work here, first find the right size needle for the tubes (all sizes of plastic tubes are covered by the variety pack of needles). Wrap the eye in a tapered fashion with 8/0 thread, and seal with superglue.  Let it dry.  
Step 3:  Close up here, trick is to go very light with the thread, one trip down and back does the trick as long as your initial needle size is correct.   
Step 4:  Cut plastic tube to desired length, melt the rear section slightly, and push tube on the needle.  Make sure it goes onto the thread (you'll feel the click of each wrap), the goal here being it will not spin when you tie.  You can use your tying desk for leverage to push the tube on, but do not put the tube on too tight or it will be almost impossible to get off.  
Step 5:  Start flash (or comparable body material) near the head and work it back.  Do the same with the wire rib.  Try and keep the thread underbody smooth.  Add weighted wraps to the body prior to all this if you'd like.  
Step 6:  Wrap the flash forward, and counter rib the wire.  You can add some superglue or UV epoxy here to really lock down the body.  Remember these flies (potentially) can last much longer then traditionally tied hook flies.  
Step 7:  Add eyes, and a collar of hackle behind the eyes.  Make sure you leave room for a head, and additional room to melt the tube back to the head.  Check the picture for appropriate left over space. 
Step 8:  Prepare a barred feather of your choice.  Most of the time I use Mallard Flank because it's cheap, there are however, many options out there.  Teal, Guinea, and Gadwall are other great choices.  
Step 9:  Tie in by the tip, trim, and wrap the barred collar.  
Step 10:  Add a wing.  In this case I used Arctic Fox, but you can substitute other materials here.  Rabbit strip, marabou, and all of the synthetic streamer fibers will work too.  
Step 11:  Add a couple strands of flash if desired, and finish off the head.  Push the tube off the needle (again you can use your tying desk for leverage to pop it off the needle), and melt the head back with a lighter (do this slowly with the flame away from the tube, as over-melting can be big trouble).  That's it! 
Next post I will show you some other tube flies that have worked well for me this year and why (in theory) they have worked, and I'll also lay down the basics of rigging them up.  Thanks for reading!